London’s sights, culture and nightlife are world famous. But the city has an adventurous side too, with ice climbing in Covent Garden, bungee jumping by the O2, kayaking down the Thames and cycling the world’s fastest track among the thrills on offer. So sit up and strap in for our round-up of the capital’s 10 best action-packed activities:
There are no shortcuts to perfect pronunciation, however there are some ways you can practise more effectively and improve your skills faster. Follow our ten top tips, start improving your pronunciation today and take a step closer towards your goal of perfect English pronunciation:
1. Listen to yourself.
It’s often difficult to hear pronunciation errors in your own speech because you are concentrating actually communicating rather than the sound you are making. If you can’t hear your pronunciation problems, it’s tough to correct them. Try recording your speech with your smartphone or PC and making a note of specific areas you need to improve on.
2. Slow down!
Many English learners think that speaking fluently means they need to speak fast. This is wrong. Speaking too fast reinforces bad habits and makes the speaker sound nervous and indecisive. Speaking slowly will give you time to breathe properly and think about what you want to say next. Because it gives you time to think while you are speaking, you’ll feel more relaxed and be able to concentrate on making your English sound fantastic.
3. Picture it…
Close your eyes and think about how to make a sound before saying it. Visualize the positioning of your mouth and face. If you have studied with the phonemic chart, think about the sound you are making and how it relates to other English phonemes. If you have used diagrams of the mouth and tongue, think about the shape you need to make inside your mouth if you want to make the sound correctly.
4. Get physical!
Pronunciation is a physical skill. You’re teaching your mouth a new way to move and using different muscles. Focus on difficult sounds each day. Having trouble with ‘th’? Put your tongue between your teeth (don’t bite down) and blow air out of your mouth. Feel the air move over the top of your tongue.
5. Watch yourself.
Stand in front of a mirror to see the placement of your tongue, lips, and shape of your mouth when you make certain sounds. Compare what you see with a video of a native-speaker saying the same thing.
6. Copy the experts.
There’s no replacement for learning pronunciation from the experts – native-speakers. So listen! Listen to English radio programs and watch television and movies in English. Imitate what you’re hearing – even if you’re not sure what they’re saying yet.
7. Practice English alone.
Pronunciation problems persist because we’re afraid to make mistakes. Create scenarios – meeting someone for the first time, ordering at a restaurant, asking for directions – then act out the dialogue by yourself. Don’t be shy
8. Find a language buddy.
Getting feedback from an outside observer is crucial. Find a friend who’s also interested in improving their English. Try exchanging recorded messages so you can listen closely to each other’s pronunciation.
9. Pay attention to intonation and stress.
Good pronunciation is more than just mastering individual sounds. It’s also understanding intonation (the rise and fall of the voice) and stress (some sounds in words and some words in sentences are louder or clearer than others). Read poems, speeches and songs aloud, concentrating on the word stress and intonation.
10. Sing a song!
Learn the words to popular English songs and sing along. Singing helps you relax and just get those words out, as well as helping your rhythm and intonation. Because you don’t need to concentrate on constructing sentences for yourself, you can concentrate on making your pronunciation sound great!
Give each of these tips a try next time you have a chance and find out which of them works best for you. Remember, none of them is an instant fix but they will all help you reach your goals as part of regular practice.
Queridos alumnos, no olvidéis que hoy por la tarde, a las 19:00, tenemos nuestra cita con el fútbol en el pabellón de Conde de Bustillos, nº 17.
We’ve all experienced it. That moment when you have no idea what someone is saying to you. You nod and smile until they ask you a question.
Then you have no choice but to admit it… you’re completely lost!
Or maybe while you are nodding and smiling you realize the other person has just told you that their dog has died…
These situations are completely normal when you are learning another language :). There are such a variety of accents, enunciations, speeds, volumes, and ways of communicating, that it’s normal to miss many things.
In fact, there are probably occasions when you don’t understand something in your own language due to one of those factors. The quicker you get used to it the better. Why? Because the more you face these situations the faster your listening skills will improve.
Here are our key ways to improve your listening:
1) Create a habit of listening in English every day.
Even if it is just five minutes a day. There are two ways of listening: Passive listening, where you have the audio or the video on while you are doing other things (walking, driving, working…). This is good for becoming familiar with the sounds and intonation in English.
The other type of listening, active listening, requires your full attention, and you can write down the vocabulary and grammar that you learn from it. You can also write a short summary and your opinion and share it with someone else. This is highly effective.
2) Practice listening in your native language.
Many of us aren’t great listeners in our own language. Learn how to pay attention to the person in front of you in a relaxed way, so that you understand the message they want to transmit. You can practice this with another person. Ask them to tell you something about themselves, and then see if you can summarise what they have said.
3) Face the situations you fear.
The most effective way to improve your listening is having real life conversations with people in real situations. After all, that is one of the reasons you are learning English, isn’t it? Those are the moments when you really test all the skills and qualities you need to be a good communicator: Listening, focus, confidence, connection, and precision.
As the English entrepreneur Richard Branson said: “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over”.
Good luck and… enjoy! 😉